Watch Shows Post ‘Best-Ever’ Results

Spring’s international fine watch shows in Switzerland this year posted some of their best results ever, in business and visitors, propelled by a strong, unceasing global demand for luxury products, especially from growing affluent classes in countries like China, India, and Russia, as well as those in Europe and North America.

BaselWorld 2007 (Apr. 12-19), the world’s largest watch and jewelry trade fair, held in Basel, this year in its 35th edition had a record-breaking attendance of 101,000 and best-ever business results for many of its exhibitors. Basel, like other shows, also reported strong increases in international media coverage. Some 2,500 attended BaselWorld, which had just over 2,100 exhibitors.

The 17th edition of the exclusivie Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie ended its seven-day run (Apr. 16-21) at Geneva’s Palexpo with some 13,000 visitors from about 2,500 watch and jewelry points-of-sale around the world. They included a growing number from Asia (i.e.,China, Hong Kong, South Korea), as well as leading retailers from Europe, the United States, and Latin America.

The growing importance in the busienss of women’s mechancial luxury watches, especially those with  complications, was emphaised in an SIHH exhibit called “Fine Watches, a Homage to Women”, starriong timepieces form each of its exhibitors.

The SIHH presents 16 of the world’s most prestigious watch brands, among them Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Dunhill, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, JeanRichard, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Parmigiani, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels. Most from the Richemont Group, and the SIHH has long limited the number of its exhibitors. However, several luxury watch companies want to join the SIHH and the fair’s management is considering expanding its exhibitors, “contingent on a collegial decision by the exhibiting brands and on the availability of space,” it said in a reprot.

The Franck Muller Group, a mini-conglomerate of seven top luxury watch and jewelry brands, holds it own seven-day “World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie” at its Watchland estate just outside Geneva. Its 10th edition this year had record sales, said Group officials, and was “tremendously successful.”

The only Geneva-based watch show open to the public, it welcomed more than 6,000 visitors, an increase of more than 20 percent over 2006, and 550 international journalists.

Double-digit gains in sales turnover were reported by its signature Franck Muller Genève and Rodolphe brands. Martin Braun and Backes & Strauss watches, two prestigious brands which recently joined the Group and were in the WPHH for the first time, “sold beyond their objectives,” said a post-WHPP report. Also posting sales gains were the brands Pierre Kunz, ECW and Barthelay.

Healthy attendance and business was also reported by several of the dozen other smaller events and shows held in Geneva by independent watchmakers.